Masculinities scholarship could be seen as distinct from and complementary to feminist theory — an independent and parallel companion theory, developed by men. In this regard, from a feminist’s perspective masculinities scholarship might be thought of as ethnography, helpfully providing insights into the operations and assumptions of a distinct masculine culture. This approach would seem to validate the notion that there are significant differences between men’s and women’s experiences and perspectives, and consideration of both is necessary to form a complete legal theory picture. Feminist legal theory and masculinities theory are thus seen as both contrasting and complementary in nature.
On the other hand, masculinities scholarship can be understood as providing the basis for a critique of feminist legal theory. This approach begins with the allegation that feminist legal theory generally and incorrectly treats men as a monolithic group when there is in fact a multiplicity of male identities. Masculinities scholarship, in this framing, could be categorized as the male-focused companion to critiques that have been made over the past thirty years that feminist legal theory is excluding and essentializing. It is this understanding of the significance of masculinities to feminist legal theory that prompted this Essay.